The Best Pad Kee Mao in Dubai

Please note the views expressed in this review are totally based on our own experiences and taste, and is a comparison of 3 popular joints in Dubai.

My husband and I are huge Thai cuisine fans, and one of our favourite Thai noodle dishes is Pad Kee Mao.

Pad Kee Mao translates to ‘Drunken Noodles’ and according urban legend, it earned its name  for being the perfect cure for hangovers owing to its super spicy sauce base. Pad Kee Mao is essentially flat rice noodles stir-fried in a spicy soya sauce and basil sauce. It was introduced to Thai menus by the Chinese, and has since evolved into a more aromatic Thai delicacy.

We have eaten in a number of Thai restaurants in Dubai, and our benchmark on good Thai cooking has always been the Pad Kee Mao.

Unlike the better known Pad Thai which has a sweet tangy base, a good spicy Pad Kee Mao in our opinion is a greater test on culinary skills. A good Pad Kee Mao is the perfect balance of basil and hot peppers and just the right amount of soya sauce.

Here is a comparison of Pad Kee Mao across 3 popular Thai restaurants in Dubai: Shang Thai, Little Bangkok and Lemon Grass.

Shang Thai:

Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, this snazzy Thai eatery has built up quite a reputation with the neighboring crowd. The atmosphere is sleek and stylish, and the moss green upholstery along with traditional Thai décor touches gives out a zen vibe. But how was their Pad Kee Mao?

Shang Thai

On appearance, it looked a little bland. A few additional dashes of soya sauce would have given it some gloss. The noodles were also slightly overdone so they stuck to one another a bit. We asked for extra spicy, but still had to pour in the Thai chili sides to bring it to life. On a scale of 1 to 10, we rated it a 6.

Little Bangkok:

This is a relatively new addition to the line of restaurants next to Lamcy Plaza, Dubai. It has a funky urban vibe. It has an open kitchen and newage décor incorporating Thai cuisine essentials. However, their Pad Kee Mao failed to impress.

Little Bangkok

Although it was aesthetically more pleasing than the one in Shang Thai, the quantity was sparse. Although we ordered for extra spicy, it was bland enough to offer my three year-old. The delicate flavoring of basil seemed to be missing altogether. Out of 10, we rated it a 4.

Lemon Grass:

Lemon Grass is one of the oldest Thai chains in Dubai. We are regulars in the Lamcy branch. They also have kiosks in certain mall food-courts, but in our opinion, their food tastes much better in the restaurant branches. This Pad Kee Mao was eaten in the branch next to Lamcy Plaza.

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass never fails to impress. They serve generous portions, the food always looks great, and their Pad Kee Mao is out of this world. It had the perfect balance of chili heat and basil flavor, and the saltiness of the soya sauce married in the flavors beautifully. This was a winner dish, and we gave it a 10.